The Cornerstone and Whose Image
Review – The Fig Tree and John the Baptist
Matthew 3:5-10 John the Baptist and the Pharisees and the Sadducees
11:12-14 The fig tree has no fruit and is cursed.
11:20-21 The fig tree had withered from its roots.
11:30 John’s baptism, was it from heaven or of human origin?
12:1-12 Introduction via 2 Samuel 12:1-10 Nathan, David, Bathsheba, and Uriah the Hittite
Just as Jesus tells a story to trap the Pharisees, His Father used His prophet Nathan to trap David by the telling of a story. A story David would react to and convict himself.
Now as to our initial verses today from Mark 12 where Jesus speaks The Parable of the Tenants which describes the actual background of Jewish Galilee with many large land owners who were absentee landlords and the people who cultivated the land as tenant farmers.
However, in Jesus telling, the man represents God, the vineyard Israel, the man’s servants the Old Testament prophets, the tenants the Jewish leaders past and present, and the son, our Lord Jesus Himself.
So Jesus told all of those who were listening, God planted Israel, put a hedge of protection around her, built tower to watch for enemies, dug a pit for the wine vat – a symbol of fruitfulness – and finally God “rented it out to vine growers” the Jewish religious leaders.
God had placed His people under the care of those who should have watched for their souls and sought to cultivate them spiritually so there would be an abundant fruit for Him.
Jesus nearing the end of His parable asks, What then will the owner of the vineyard do?
The chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders knew they had condemned themselves with their own words with their answer to Jesus question especially when Jesus followed it up with passage from Psalm 118.
12:13-17 Whose Image?
Pharisees and Herodians working together was really unusual as they were not friends or common allies. The Herodians were not religious and supported Herod and Rome while the Pharisees wanted independence for Israel. Here they came together to catch Jesus in His words. The word used for catch was normally used to catch wild animals. Their purpose was to hunt Him and catch Him like some wild animal.
So they acted as if they were having a dispute and wanted Jesus to settle the matter. The question, the dispute was not sincere and was intended to compromise Jesus either politically or theologically.
Jesus likely held the coin high for everyone to see to ask His question: Whose image is this? And whose inscription? Of course everyone there would know the answer – Caesar’s!
They must have thought they had Him trapped at that moment, but then He gave His answer legitimizing human government while putting a stop to any attempt to tie Him to political anarchy.
But there is more to Jesus’ answer than we normally pay attention to … people bearing the image of God should give themselves to Him. Not part, but in whole. If you bear the image of God, you should give your life to God – your entire life.
So, is going to church just another routine. Are you stuck in a religious rut that’s long lost its meaning? Are we seeking His will? Do we bear His image? Or are we merely listening or are we putting His Word into practice? Ezekiel 33:30-32 As for you, son of man, your people are talking together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, saying to each other, ‘Come and hear the message that has come from the Lord.’ My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to hear your words, but they do not put them into practice. Their mouths speak of love, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice.